Today I went out and ran for the seventh New Year’s Day in a row with two friends who’ve run six of those with me. It’s a nice little streak and it’s long enough that I don’t want any of us to break it now.
It’s also nothing compared to Jon Sutherland who’s run on New Year’s Day for 47 years. And every other day in between for a certified, U.S. Running Streak Association list-leading 17,388 days in a row. I’d have to run every day from now on until I’m 95½ to beat his streak.
So I’m not going to win that one. I’m also not going to win an Olympic medal.* I’m not going to win the Westinghouse Prize, a Nobel Prize, or the XPrize. I’m not going to “win” at any one of millions of the other things that someone else in the world is better at (including not ending a sentence with a dangling participle).
Thinking big and shooting for the stars is an important strategy. Too many of us think small and limit our accomplishments. But comparing yourself and your accomplishments to everyone else on a global level can be discouraging and disheartening. Now that it’s a small world thanks to social media, you can always find someone who has done more, worked harder, and had just the right combination of circumstances, genetics, and hard work to be far, far better than you are or ever will be at that one thing.
Then we don’t stop at that one person. We compare our looks to Mila Kunis, our creativity to Christian Siriano, and our running to Joan Benoit Samuelson. No wonder we never feel like we measure up.
I’ve had some success on the local level in running. Last year I won the Masters Women’s Valley Runner of the Year Series. I’m thrilled with the win and proud of the work I did. But I’m aware that there are plenty of women my age, here locally, who are significantly faster than I am. I won because I put in the work and made races on the schedule when they didn’t or weren’t able to participate.
This coming year … who knows? Oh yes, I want to win again, of course! (And if I do, I’m totally going to bribe the Master of Ceremonies at the award breakfast to say “Aaannd STILL…”)
Don’t tell my coach, but I’m also going to consider it a “win” if I improve my personal records (PRs), even if I don’t win the series. Or, depending on circumstances, if I just keep training and get stronger, feel great, and have a good time.
Because it’s not about prizes or beating someone else, it’s about winning in a much smaller, local pool of competitors: MYSELF.
It’s about beating inertia to develop a new habit. Or controlling reactions to become a kinder, more compassionate person. Or setting up a system that to get what you want.
Wherever you are, whatever level you’re at, however hard you’re working, you can win where you are, right now.
If "winning" at networking is important to you this year, reach out to me with your questions and challenges.